Respectful Insolence

The ignorance and stupidity, they burn:

i-30f50a9b6cc1f0e2c28eed80833ae5b9-chinaprotestnazigermany.jpg

Why, yes, actually, we did “allow” Nazi Germany to host the Olympics back in 1936. Hitler even presided over some of the ceremonies. The sign is so wrong that at first I wondered whether it was a Photoshop job, but apparently it’s legit.

I realize this photo is from around three week ago, but I didn’t see it until Ed pointed me to it yesterday. Given my interest in World War II history and the Holocaust, you just knew I couldn’t resist it once made aware of it. True, it’s not as hilariously dumb as Tony Zirkle, but it does reveal a shocking level of historical ignorance. It also waters down the legitimate protest against China’s treatment of Tibet.

Comments

  1. #1 Colugo
    May 11, 2008

    At first I thought the sign was an attempt to be thought-provokingly ironic. Probably not.

    The international legitimization of Nazi Germany and tyrannical China, stamping them as fully accepted members of the community of nations and allowing them to showcase their dubious glories, will forever tarnish the Olympics. But these are not the only stains on the Olympics.

    Did anyone else see the Secrets of the Dead episode on East Germany’s systematic program of doping athletes (including unsuspecting young teenage girls) with androgenic steroids?
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/?p=42

    Uday Hussein had Iraqi Olympic athletes tortured if he thought that they had underperformed.

    The Olympics are like the United Nations – high ideals of international peace and brotherhood, exploited and sullied by dictators.

  2. #2 crf
    May 11, 2008

    It is possible that the people who wrote the sign do know that Germany hosted an Olympics.

    The sign could be thought of as making the point that the entire Olympic movement is still corrupt, and didn’t learn any lessons from the 1936 games about awarding them to dictatorships.

    So you’re meant to consider the question posed in the sign, answer in the affirmative, and make the mental connection that the ethics of the Olympics have not improved, and that their up to the same trick.

    It is a debatable point. Personally, I think the Olympics are only as political as you want them to be. Most people involved in the Olympics, as athletes and organizers don’t especially think of them as political. Many critics of the Olympics do consider them very political. Some of those arguments critics make a pretty strained though.

    For example, in this article that appeared the nytimes, it is claimed that because the torch relay first made an appearance at the Berlin Olympics and incorporated some Aryan mythos, that it is forever tainted by nazism and should be ended. To my mind the argument doesn’t wash in the modern world, where one may consider the relay without knowledge of its origins and conclude that the it is just a relay.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/arts/14conn.html?_r=1&sq=olympics%20torch%20nazi&st=nyt&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&scp=2&adxnnlx=1210533009-JZKGqE/ZeATr+9Opgf8e6g

  3. #3 Dianne
    May 11, 2008

    Who is this “we” that is allowing Olympic games to be held in Bad Places? I wasn’t aware that I had any influence over the decisions of the International Olympic Committee. Perhaps the protester assumes that the US (the presumed “we” in the sign) ought to be able to allow or disallow any act by any person or organization in the world, but alas for George Bush’s ego, that is not yet so.

  4. #4 Owen
    May 11, 2008

    Ouch. That’s pretty serious stoopid. I guess they skipped school the day they covered 1936 in their history class.

  5. #5 DLC
    May 11, 2008

    And if you remember, Hitler had to grin and bear it when several medals were awarded to members of “inferior races”.

  6. #6 ben
    May 11, 2008

    I think you are seriously failing to understand the meaning of the sign.

    Would *WE* have allowed Nazi Germany to host the Olympics?

    Because *WE* didn’t. It happened over 70 years ago. However, the Munich Olympics were in many ways a propaganda triumph for Nazism and conferred international legitimacy on Hitler’s regime.

    Much as allowing today’s China to host the Olympics will do.

    Ask yourself again: would *WE* have allowed Nazi Germany to host the Olympics?

    And maybe don’t be so sniffily superior and dismissive when it’s possible you’re the one who doesn’t grasp the nuance.

  7. #7 Orac
    May 11, 2008

    Oh, please. Give me a break. You’re really grasping at straws here when you try to make it look as though the creator of that sign actually had that much sophistication. If the sign had said “should we have” rather than “would we have” I might buy it, but not the way it is.

    Remember, Hitler took power in 1933. The 1936 Olympics were awarded to Germany in 1931, when Germany was still a democracy.

  8. #8 Janine ID
    May 11, 2008

    The Munich Olympics was in 1972. I think the one you meant was the Berlin Olympics.

  9. #9 Uncle Dave
    May 11, 2008

    Oops!!!
    I agree, this must have coincided with a new youth “National skip school day” a show of support for ignorance in education.

    DLC
    “And if you remember, Hitler had to grin and bear it when several medals were awarded to members of “inferior races”.

    see below;

    http://hnn.us/articles/571.html

    Quite a bit of lore around this bit of history.

    Actually the Germans won the majority of the medals at this Olympics and Hitler only shook hands with German athletes on the first day and was warned not to show favoritism by the Olympic committee and so he didn’t meet any other athletes then after, German or otherwise.

    “Hitler did snub a black American athlete, but it was Cornelius Johnson, not Jesse Owens. It happened the first day of the meet. Just before Johnson was to be decorated, Hitler left the stadium. A Nazi spokesman explained that Hitler’s exit had been pre-scheduled, but no one believes that.”

    Hitler was actually quite pleased with the outcome of the 1936 event, And Jesse Owens claimed he received some of the greatest ovations of his career at the 1936 Olympics.

    hey boomers; Remember the old World at War series with Sir Laurence Olivier as the narrator?

  10. #10 ben
    May 12, 2008

    “Oh, please. Give me a break. You’re really grasping at straws here when you try to make it look as though the creator of that sign actually had that much sophistication.”

    Right, Orac, you’re quite right. Because you know the creator of the sign personally, and you were there, and you know everything that goes through everyone’s head. *You* can’t imagine any peasant thinking in such a way, because you’re so clever and everyone else is so stupid.

    Fuck you, Orac, you hypocritical piece of shit. Enjoy your Olympic Games in Beijing. Fuck you in the *neck*.

  11. #11 Orac
    May 12, 2008

    Such hostility. My goodness. Why on earth could that be?

    Of course, whenever someone says “fuck you” to me that just wins the argument outright, doesn’t it? I clearly must cower in the face of your superior rhetoric and arguments. Sorry if you don’t like ignorance being mocked; maybe it has something to do with your own.

    Oh, and, believe it or not, I can imagine someone thinking that way; you just haven’t made an even mildly convincing case for your interpretation of the sign. Do that, and I might change my opinion. I’ll wait.

    On the other hand, even using your most charitable interpretation, the sign demonstrates appalling historical ignorance, given that the Olympics were awarded to Germany well over a year before Hitler came to power. So in reality “we” didn’t “let” Nazi Germany host the Olympics. “We” let Weimar Germany host; taking away the hosting after the Nazis came to power would have been a different kettle of fish entirely. Also, the International Olympic Committee decides who hosts the Olympics, not “us.”

  12. #12 anon
    May 12, 2008

    Agreed with Orac. If the intent of the sign was to compare the Olympics in Berlin, then they would have made it more clear.

  13. #13 Abel Pharmboy
    May 12, 2008

    Wow. To be ignorant of the 1936 Olympics also implies ignorance of the accomplishments of Jesse Owens. Very sad.

  14. #14 Graham
    May 12, 2008

    Orac, I agree with you the person who wrote that sign probably had no other understanding of what Nazi Germany was than simply the ‘bad guys’.

    Supposedly in the US people are not taught just how people like Hitler & Mussolini came into power.

    This sort of ignorance is wide spread. It is what allows the author of “Human Smoke” to get away with his quote mining to support his appalling claim that Hitler should have been left alone to do as he willed.

    It is how people can confuse the 1920′s/30′s British practice of ‘Air Control’ with the WWII policy of ‘Area Bombing’.

    For those who don’t know, ‘Air Control’ was the policy carried out by the RAF on the NW Frontier and in Iraq. It was the successor to the 19th century practice of sending out punitive expeditions. (For one thing it was cheaper)

    Instead of sending out ground forces to attack those believed responsible for rebellious acts, their villages first had leaflets dropped on them warning that they would be attacked as punishment for whatever they were supposed to have done and about a day or so later the village would be bombed (or at least that is my understanding of the policy).

    In Ellic Howe’s book ‘The Black Game’(pg 25, Queen Anne Edition) reference is made to what this policy lead to.

    The RAF actually considered using the same technique on Germany. During the Munich Crisis, a leaflet was supposedly drawn up which would have been dropped on German cities to inform the citizens not only that they were going to be bombed, but the time and date of the attack!

    Needless to say, the plan was stopped before it was practice into practice. Though I have no doubt there exist those now who would fully approve of it…and the deaths it would cause.

  15. #15 Uncle Dave
    May 12, 2008

    “Because *WE* didn’t. It happened over 70 years ago….”

    I would agree with that statement that it may insinuate a present tense perspective or “nuance” of this historical event.

    But lets just leave it this for what it is however; Not a very well thought out statement of protest.

    Clearly, some individuals have taken this example to deeper level of decipering the Enigma code.

  16. #16 Uncle Dave
    May 12, 2008

    “Supposedly in the US people are not taught just how people like Hitler & Mussolini came into power.”

    With school budgets and such today in public schools, I doubt very much if WWII and prewar Germany is given more than about a couple of class periods of discussion in high school.

  17. #17 Uncle Dave
    May 12, 2008

    “Supposedly in the US people are not taught just how people like Hitler & Mussolini came into power.”

    With school budgets and such today in public schools, I doubt very much if WWII and prewar Germany is given more than about a couple of class periods of discussion in high school.

    Trying to get the most important points of the 1930-1945 period into a cliff notes Google format and have it retained beyond the post-pubescent period from which it is taught is clearly underestimated.

  18. #18 Bad
    May 12, 2008

    It’s too bad that the joke of the sign is a little too brainy to work as a good “FAIL” meme picture. Too many people wouldn’t get it.

    The 1936 games proved an embarrassment in almost every way. It provided international legitimacy to Hitler’s steadily worsening regime, bragging rights for Hitlers racial theories about the superiority of Aryans, and even more pathetically, Germany treated our black Athletes better than we do back home (i.e. black athletes could use all the same facilities as others, sleep in the same hotels, use the same elevators, etc.) They were pretty much a victory only for athletes like Owens, who got the praise and recognition they deserved, and a disaster on every other level.

    But as was noted, no one could have predicted all this when the games were awarded to Germany. On the other hand, we all know what China is, and that it has a lot more to answer for than just Tibet. The committee awarded the games to Germany in the context of it being a democracy recovering from a war, and seemingly needing some exposure and pride. What the heck was the context in which they awarded the games to China? Some countries are willing to shell out millions to clean up their cities and build stadiums to host. China is willing to basically forcibly and draconianly cripple their own economy in order to provide a sham image of the country to outsiders. This is not something any international body should endorse or reward.

  19. #19 Skwee
    May 12, 2008

    It is possible that the people who wrote the sign do know that Germany hosted an Olympics.

    The sign could be thought of as making the point that the entire Olympic movement is still corrupt, and didn’t learn any lessons from the 1936 games about awarding them to dictatorships.

    So you’re meant to consider the question posed in the sign, answer in the affirmative, and make the mental connection that the ethics of the Olympics have not improved, and that their up to the same trick.

    Perhaps they did, but they did not word it very effectively.
    IMO, something like “Not another 1936″ would have been better.

  20. #20 Victor Bogado
    May 13, 2008

    @ben,

    I think that if the author of the sign had the intention of pointing the mistake of hosting an Olympic event at Nazi Germany he would have made his point more clearly. The message is quite easily understood as if the author haven’t had a clue about 1936 Olympics, if he had the wit to point this, why wouldn’t he have worded it better so people reading would get it on first sight?

    I usually don’t explain with intelligence and wit what can be easily explained by ignorance and dumbness.

  21. #21 Guy
    May 13, 2008

    It’s a lot worse than that sign indicates. Many (most?) young people don’t know who fought in WWII. Many young people have no idea what the Apollo program was. History has been suffering just like science has over the last few decades in US schools.

    A more interesting question about that sign is this: What if Washington DC was slated to be the host city this year?
    Would it be wrong to allow the US to host Olympic Games given the Iraq War, the Abu Grab prison scandal, alleged torture by US, the controversy over Guantanamo Bay?

    The Bush presidency has put Americans in a very difficult position when it comes to protesting the human rights record of other nations.

    –Guy P. Harrison, author of 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God (Prometheus Books)

  22. #22 Laser Potato
    May 14, 2008

    “Of course, whenever someone says “fuck you” to me that just wins the argument outright, doesn’t it?”
    Sadly this is the logic used by every poster on 4chan, ever.